The Synchro America Open was the last competition for the Ukrainians until the European Championships in about a month and a half. They had a successful showing by winning six gold and two silver medals, and their duet has never been so close to China’s.
After competing at the Canada Open last weekend, the Ukrainians closed off their FINA World Series participation in California and breezed through all of their events. They won gold in every team event, and Yelyzaveta Yakhno won two gold in technical and free solo. The young Marta Fiedina also continued to position herself as a strong medal contender with scores in the high 80s for the upcoming junior European and world championships.
The most interesting results occurred in the duet events. The Chinese pair of Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen won gold, but Ukraine’s Yakhno and Anastasiya Savchuk are drawing nearer to the experienced twins. There is only a 0.1763 difference in tech and 0.6334 in free. The Jiang twins have been together on the senior international stage for over a decade while it really is only the first year Yakhno and Savchuk are a senior duet. At this competition and comparing with the previous seasons, the Jiang sisters received lower scores than ‘usual’ for the exact same routines – Swan Lake in free and flamenco in tech. In contrast, the Ukrainian duet is slowly but surely improving with brand new routines unveiled only a few weeks ago in Budapest.
However, there is no major matchup and nothing at stake between the two nations this season, with each focusing on its own continental championships. Nevertheless, fans could be in for a good fight for the podium next year at the 2019 FINA World Championships if the Chinese don’t innovate and renew fast, and even more so if we throw in there Japan’s duet that has been beating Ukraine all season.
One of the other big news of this meet was Italy debuting a new choreography in the free mixed duet event. Manila Flamini and Giorgio Minisini competed to the theme of “The Duel,” as they pictured a battle between angels and demons. The two had a good swim for a first time out, with an original routine that shows nice difficulty, and it was a pleasant surprise to see something new from the Italians after recycling an old free routine for the beginning of the season.
Unfortunately, they did not have any direct competition here and easily won both technical and free events. The U.S. mixed pair did not compete in California, but the Italians will surely have a much bigger matchup very soon at the next leg of the world series in Greece, where Russia is expected to compete. The public did however see a new mixed pair on the international stage from Colombia with Jhair Galeano and Ingrid Usuga.
Japan sent its B team to California. The Japanese were in good shape to win silver in all team events, but a silly and unfortunate mistake disqualified them in the free team. The swimmers who actually competed did not match the ones on the start list, and the entire team was simply denied of a silver medal after successfully swimming its wolf-themed routine.
With Japan’s disqualification, Canada earned a silver in free team with its “Rising from the Ashes” routine. It also earned a bronze in technical team. For the technical duet, the Canadians moved Claudia Holzner to the reserve position and decided to give Halle Pratt a go with Jacqueline Simoneau. The two scored about two points lower than Simoneau and Holzner did last week in Surrey, but the live video did not work for their swim so it is hard to comment on anything else regarding this routine.
Simoneau had once again fantastic showings in both solo events. She improved her elements in the technical routine, and made her spins look effortless. Her combined spin particularly is a thing of beauty. While she was still about 1.45 points behind Yakhno in technical, she is only 0.1667 behind in free. This was however the last time we will see Simoneau compete this particular free routine, as she has already announced she is moving on to something new for next year.
Just like Canada, the Americans moved up in the free team rankings in the end and earned a bronze medal, but also improved on their score by nearly a point since the Canada Open. The home team earned a bronze as well in the free combination in its final competition of the season before the FINA Jr. World Championships.
Eva Morris from New Zealand and the team from Australia made their first appearance of the year, while Alexandra and Yekaterina Nemich from Kazakhstan were back out for the first time since the Japan Open.
Article by Christina Marmet
All photos by Liz Corman.